How To Make The Most Of A Digital Fast

Do digital fasts work? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. 

Answer by Alex Packer, Author of Slaying Digital Dragons, on Quora

Do digital fasts work? Absolutely!

But to maximize the value, it’s a good idea to know why you’re thinking of a doing a fast, and what you hope to get out of it.

There are three different types of fasts. Maybe there’s more, but I can only think of three.

An “App Fast” is when you decide to abstain from using a particular app for a specific period of time. It could be an hour a day, an afternoon, or even days at a time. Maybe being on the app is making you feel unhappy, jealous, or down on yourself. Maybe it’s taking up too much of your time or, once you get on the app, you can’t stop. So you decide to cut back for a while on using that app.

An “Intermittent Fast” is something you structure into your screen time based on an event, place, activity, or time frame. For example, maybe you don’t use your phone on the bus ride to school or work. Or your family turns off all phones at the dinner table. Or maybe every evening for two hours after dinner, or every Saturday morning, it’s sayonara smartphone.


The third type of fast I call a “Purge Fast.” This is the biggie where you give up all phone use for a more extended period of time to flush out your digital system. Think of it as an electronic enema. No, on second thought, better not. A purge fast can be for a day, a week, a month, or longer. (Don’t faint.)

Whichever fast you choose, don’t think of it as doing without. Think of it as a gift to yourself. You’re giving yourself a chance to clear your head, refresh your spirit, slow down, and take a break from all the Snaps, texts, notifications, flashes, pings, pongs, and posts that can feel like an assault, disrupt your sleep, cause stress, and hijack your time and emotions.

There are things you can do to increase the chances of succeeding with a fast.

  1. Be clear with yourself about why you’re doing it. This will help to keep you motivated.
  2. Set a realistic goal. If you’re feeling addicted to your phone, it may be too difficult to give it up entirely. Instead, start with a 60-minute fast for just one day. You can do that. Then, the next day, do another 60-minute fast at the same time. Pretty soon, you’ll have quite a few of those “60 minutes” under your belt. With that success, you might up it to 90 or 120 minutes. Step-by-step you can turn your achievement into a more ambitious goal.
  3. Come up with things you’ll do while the fast is taking place. If you used to play video games for hours every night but are now going cold turkey, you need to schedule alternative activities to fill the time and quell any temptations. Plan to get together with a friend, watch a movie, exercise, go for a bike ride.
  4. Get a friend or family member to join you in the fast.
  5. Identify and problem-solve any practical issues you’ll need to address if you don’t have use of your phone for a period of time. For example, if you typically receive work or school assignments, texts, emails, documents, directions, or appointment notifications via your phone, figure out some workarounds for getting the information.
  6. Build a team of people you can count on to give you encouragement, practical assistance, and emotional support.
  7. Plan a reward for yourself upon the successful completion of your fast. You deserve it!
  8. If you follow these tips, I’m sure you’ll be able to live life in the fast lane!

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

The Tycoon Herald